Icicle's guide to Studio Success [datatransmission.co.uk]

Discussion in 'Production' started by Riisu, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. Riisu

    Riisu Not the Preacher Man

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    http://www.datatransmission.co.uk/features512.aspx

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    In The Studio: Icicle
    Written By: BenGomori
    It’s said by many that drum & bass is probably the hardest of all the dance music to produce, with such intricate percussion, high levels of automation and unforgiving bass demands. Dutch producer Icicle knows this all too well, but years of practise have enabled him to become one of the scene’s most talented producers, with a slew of releases for the genre’s finest labels (Soul:r, Critical, Med School, Shogun Audio, Ram, C.I.A., Renegade Hardware) under his belt in the last 3 years. Throw in the fact that he’s been working on projects in other genres, and he’s ideal for our studio tips feature. So pay attention people – and if any of that jargon goes over your head, get your Google on!


    Samples

    First off, especially when making music such as drum & bass, dubstep or hip-hop, you need to have a decent collection of sounds. Anything from sample CDs with drum hits, synth hits, pads or sound design textures is very useful and you will have a place to start from rather than to make everything from scratch which is possible but very time consuming.

    Reason

    Personally, I’ll sketch out a tune in Reason first. I’m generally able to get all the basics down within an hour or two. The good thing is you can do this with a laptop and headphones while travelling or away from home. I still prefer the Reason drum computer and the Thor synth to many of the plug-in alternatives.

    Rewire

    Once I’ve got a good vibe going in Reason I will rewire the tune through Logic. There are many online tutorials on the internet explaining how to do this - just Google ‘rewire through Logic’ or search YouTube. This should really only take you 2 minutes and makes the Reason multiple outputs correspond with a chosen number of auxiliary channels on your Logic mixer.

    Logic

    When I get my Reason tracks playing through Logic the real processing can begin. Especially the reverb and some filters are miles apart from the Reason standard FX. My favourite plug-ins include PSP, Ohm, Camel Audio and the channel strips I can runs off my SSL Duende. For sub, FX-y stuff and even kicks, I use the default sound in the EXS24 a lot. I personally hate the way you have to set up instruments and prefer other samplers, but for basic sine wave manipulation, it’s perfect.

    Drums

    My drums usually consist of a basic kick and snare, sometimes old funk loops or techno type glitchy drum loops with everything from rides, shakers and extra hi-hats over the top. For the main kick and snare, don’t layer too much. A kick (or any drum hit) has a distinct musical pitch. Especially with layering kicks, the chances of getting phase cancellation in transients are really high and it will take away from the impact. So if your kick sounds weak, just keep looking for a better one.

    Bass

    Most of my bass is made in the reason Thor synth and then processed in Logic over multiple channels and buses. Basic steps in making bass include multiple oscillators with minute changes in pitch to get movement, distinct filter movements, saturation or full-on distortion with phaser or chorus type modulation at the end. Because said types of modulation introduce stereo movement in your sound, and stereo low frequency movement will destroy a vinyl cutting machine, you will always have to split your channel afterwards into a sub mono bus and stereo mid and hi bus. I roll the sub bus off at around 150 Hz to be safe.

    Music

    I like to write a lot of the music myself rather than using sampled pads etc. although there’s nothing wrong with that. Once you find a set of synthesisers you like and understand, you will have and almost limitless supply of sound. A stab for instance is easy to make; play a chord in a synth, keep the envelope short and punchy and put an envelope controlled LP-filter over it with again punchy values. Play around with the envelopes to get it right.

    Busing

    Like described under the bass section, busing is essential for sub, but it’s also a lot of fun for beats. With beats, after having a processed channel of kick and snare and for instance hi and mid range percussion, busing them together to one buss with a little bit (or tons!) of limiting can be the final touch. Your beats will sound more coherent and not just like a kick and snare with some loops on top. Also use the (pre-)sends on bass or music to create slightly different, parallel process routes on top to create a more thick sound.

    Outboard processing

    A final and advanced stage is outboard processing. To do it right you’ll need to invest in your studio a lot - but it will set your music apart that last final bit. I used to use a Mackie mixing desk for overdriving midrange sound but have found I now get better results with especially Ohm plug-ins. Outboard compression on the other hand is amazing. I use a TLaudio valve compressor for beats, or sometimes even on the master to get that analogue warmth the extra harmonics from a valve circuit provide when overdriving them a little. Also the responsiveness of hardware compressors seems unique to me and when using them at their limits there will be no little glitches.

    Keep going

    Apart from all the technical stuff, the most important thing to remember is to just keep going. When you want to make music and you know it for sure, you will make that killer tune. Within a year or within 50, all it takes is time. A recognisable sound is not something you can learn but have to develop from your own taste, so put in the hours. There’s no shortcuts to be learnt from me or anyone!


    Icicle's Cold Fear EP is out now on Shogun Audio (www.shogunaudio.com ). Also watch out for Minimal Funk as featured on the forthcoming Shogun Evolution Series1 EP due for release Feb 2010. Expect his debut album later in the year.
     
  2. thedjnifty

    thedjnifty Well-Known Member

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    Cheers for this, good read :wave:
     
  3. kama

    kama benkama.net

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    nice one! I especially liked reading about the hardware processing part, since I've chosen this path myself :D
     
  4. Lucidproduction

    Lucidproduction i aint fraid of no ghosts

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    thanks man :) great stuff

    busing section was the most helpful.

    cant wait for icicle album....
     
  5. co0ke

    co0ke windowlicker

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    wicked, nice one for this
     
  6. Labrat

    Labrat Active Member

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    THOR!!!!! WTF

    thats really interesting, i always imagined he used a Virus TI or some hardware synth for his massive bass sounds
     
  7. Lunos

    Lunos Active Member

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    cheers riizoo
     
  8. llSpaMll

    llSpaMll Member

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    Thor's badass.
     
  9. demonicdnb

    demonicdnb got duct-tape?

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    he's probably just tying to throw us off
     
  10. Indi

    Indi Tha Original ThreadKilla!

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    Massive help :slayer:
     
  11. Lucidproduction

    Lucidproduction i aint fraid of no ghosts

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    exactly maan... people still trying to preech bad things about reason just because they cant use it :p
     
  12. groelle

    groelle Well-Known Member

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  13. TeeHaichCee

    TeeHaichCee Proh-Deuce-Ah

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    Damn straight.

    I don't use reason at all these days, but I definitely don't diss any software. In my experience, any who says "xyz software is crap" regarding daw/music software like reason.....is a complete fkn n00blet. I can't begin to count the number of clueless fucks out there on "da Int3rwebz" who bag out Reason and FL studio...then follow with "Cubase is the real deal, coz pendu-fucken-lum use it"

    In the right hands any of these pieces of software can be an absolute weapon...as demonstrated by individuals like Icicle (reason), Logistics (Reason), Spor (FL Studio) Bad Robot (FL Studio, Phetsta (FL Studio), Rregula (FL Studio) yadda yadda ad nauseum.

    I know plenty of people who churn out utter crud using "l33t" software like logic and cubase.

    /rant
     
  14. the-rippa

    the-rippa I'll Kill You Bastard !!!

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    Amen brother !!!
     
  15. hooka

    hooka Member

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    the advice about layering kick drums makes alot of sense.
     
  16. kama

    kama benkama.net

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    I'd like to add something to that still...

    If you experience this, a weak kick because of layering, searching for a new sample is not the only option. You can try to reverse the polarity of one sample, eq out low's or pitch the samples differently to get rid of the phase cancellation. A good example is using 2 kicks: one with the lows cut off, leaving mostly the snap, and the other taking care of the low end. It's a cool ghost hit without the bottom end too.
     
  17. funkmod

    funkmod Member

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    this guy knows what hes talking about ;)
     
  18. dj zone

    dj zone Member

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    this post is sick so many useful tips